‘Tis the Season(s)

I often wander into Whole Foods and peruse the aisles of down-to-earth, good-for-you products with their wholesome ingredients. The expansive variety of ready-to-eat items on the hot bar. The mingling of the kindred tree huggers…those of us who love to put good into our bodies and do good by Mother Earth.

I always get pizza and 2 cookies. It’s kind of like when I have Mexican. Three crunchy tacos; there’s really no point in looking at the menu. But, I digress…

But did you know that there was magic happening over in the seasoning section?

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I used to have this thing with always wanting one of those gourmet seasoning sets, but I didn’t particularly care for the one-flavor-fits-all packaging. There were always one or two seasonings that I really wanted to try, but didn’t want to waste money on the ones I didn’t think I’d want. Randomly, I found out that you can totally make your own seasoning set at Whole Foods!

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I know right!

So basically, it works like this:

1. Find a super cute container to put your seasoning into. This step is especially important if you’re giving this as a house warming gift… *hint, hint, wink, wink* And bring a mini funnel, if you have one. In retrospect, that would have been helpful…

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2. Take the containers to the counter to have them weighed. When you go to pay for the seasonings, they have to weigh the containers individually and this will ensure you don’t pay double for the container that you brought into the store. Think back to the science experiments in undergrad where you had to weigh each chemical so you didn’t mess up the whole assignment…

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3. Select your seasonings and fill your containers. The best part of being able to make your own seasoning gift set is that it can be super personalized for the lucky recipient!

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4. Checkout! The best part of this whole deal is that you get to sample some spices without breaking your budget. I think I love that part the most 🙂

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I decided to go with Orange Chipotle, Rosemary, Aegean and Yakima Applewood, Smoked Sea Salts. ‘Tis the seasons indeed!

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Does it sound good to you? Let me know in the comments for a chance to use these delicious seasonings in your next dish!

Make It Awesome!

Strawberry Shortcake and Friends: Orange Blossom Birthday Party

I loved Strawberry Shortcake when I was growing up. I loved the way my little doll smelled and I even had a Strawberry Shortcake motorized bike when I was in the 5th grade. It went about 3 mph, but man I loved it! So to see the whole gang coming back for this generation, I’m so geeked!

I had the pleasure of throwing a 4th birthday party for a friend’s daughter who loves Strawberry Shortcake and her friends. But in wanting to do something a little different, we decided to put one of the friends in the spotlight and threw an Orange Blossom party!

If you’re not familiar with this character, this is Orange Blossom:

image from Cartoonito

image from Cartoonito

She is described as Strawberry Shortcake’s main friend. Cartoonito says that Orange Blossom always solves any problem with a smile and loves being helpful. She runs Berry Bitty City’s town market, Orange Mart, which has everything you could need!

So, to the party! Wanna see some pics? Yes? Yay!

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banner

gifts

For food, we had the simplest of menus: pizza, fresh fruit, an orange punch, and water. I felt a little guilty about the amount of sugar that was on the dessert table, so I tried to sneak someone with a smidge of sustenance in…

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fruit

flowers

water

straws

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I just love those sunflowers…they make me smile.

For all of the food labels, I edited a printables set from BellaGrey Designs, customizing it to the menu. I used the cupcake toppers to make the medallion on the straws by simply punching holes opposite to each other and sliding them onto the straws. For the water bottle labels, I used an image of Orange Blossom herself (not part of the printables set) and the same graphics for the cupcake toppers.

We even had an orange tree 🙂

tree

My husband was laughing as he helped me assemble them. I asked what was so funny, to which he replied, “these oranges look like pumpkins.” I looked at him with a straight face and said, “they are pumpkins…I’m just hoping the kids don’t notice…”

My improvisation can be found over at Oriental Trading…lol

After the kids ate, we went and played a few games. I found a list of Strawberry Shortcake themed games here. I improvised them a little to accomodate my age group and their energy levels. The kids were able to “pick” their oranges from the tree for one of those games.

game

I had the kids move their orange from the starting line to the finish. Without using their hands or feet. It was hilarious…scooting and laughing everywhere! Of course, the one boy at the party came from out of nowhere and beat everyone. He earned himself first dibs on the dessert table, after the birthday girl of course!

The dessert table had the kids wide-eyed with expectation. Moms were saying to let them have as much sugar as as they wanted. I’m not brave to take all of that energy home…

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…steamers are your friend…

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For the gift baskets, I used berry boxes that I found over at Think Garnish and embellished them with an orange bearing the child’s name and green ribbon. I filled them with an orange, a bag of candy, crayons, and notepads, bubbles, or silly string; for the seals on the candy bag, I printed the cupcake toppers onto sticker sheets.

 

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I worked with several party friends to put this all together…they shared their talents to make it such a beautiful success. I informed mom that her party was hosted by all parts of the country…thanks ladies ❤

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k cookies

flower cookies

cupcake

pops

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oreos

The birthday girl was so excited!

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balloon

She was so happy that she sat with me during that entire church service the next day ❤ I’d say that shindig was 4 year old approved! Happy birthday darling Kelsey!

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Styling, Photography, and Sugar Cookies by Creating Awesomenessity!

Printables and Banner by BellaGrey Designs

Candy/Baking Cups by The Pretty Party Shoppe

Bubble Gum Necklaces by Autumn Lynn’s Chocolate Sins

Marshmallow Pops by Sweet U Off Your Feet

Sparkle Sticks (with the Marshmallow Pops) by Painting Paris Pink

Chocolate Covered Oreos by 4 Kids Cakes

Rag Garland and Yellow Table Runner by Cupcake With Character

Paper Tassels and Sparkle Table Confetti by Tutus & Bowties Events

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The Wedding Series…The Invitation Part 2

The last post talked about deciding on who to invite and began to discuss how we stuck everything into one invite. Continuing on from Part 1, we’re discussing 2 major elements, usually designed and bought/mailed separately, that we added to the main invitation.

2. The Save the Date card:

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My biggest concern, with having a truncated planning period, was the save-the-date. I mean, how else would people remember how important it was for them to be there?!?

There is a huge trend to send out these reminders to people. Calendars, separate invitations/notices, the prequel to it all…it can get expensive! We decided that we would include this in the main invitation, since we’re already on a roll with this booklet thing…

When adding this element, we had to make it practical for our guests. We told our printer what we wanted and had this page in the passport perforated so that it could be torn out! We also added magnets to the back of it so that once it was torn out, all the guest had to do was use it to hold up something on their fridge!

Voila! Save-the-date card is a success!

3. The RSVP Card:

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There are so many things to worry about with this part…will they lose it? Will they remember to send it back? Will they actually fill it out?? As simple as we made this, some people still forgot to actually fill it out. I didn’t learn about this trick (see #4) until months later *shrugs*

What we did followed the same mindset of making things practical. The cards were pre-addressed and pre-stamped, so people LITERALLY just needed to drop it into a mailbox. Adding the stamps was a little bit of an extra expense, but so worth not having the hassle of trying to track down responses and hearing the excuse “I didn’t have a stamp…”

On the RSVP card, we also let the guests know how many seats would be held for them. We still followed the rules of etiquette and allowed for spouses/significant others. We took additional steps to make sure that we kept it for the adults only; that will be discussed in another post.

The cost of this? Patience and approximately $350 to print about 100 invitations…we were able to send everything they needed for our big day and it mailed at the regular postage price…no extra shipping fees 🙂

That breaks down to about $3.50 per invitation, but it’s personalized, really showed OUR personality, set the tone for our big day, and let our guests in on the fun from the beginning.

You don’t necessarily have to put everything in a booklet form, but be sure to communicate with your printer and local post office to remain mindful of guidelines…find out exactly how much you can cram into an envelope and still ship it out with an infinity stamp…

Next on the series: No kids allowed?

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The Wedding Series…Seriously, You Can D(o) I(t) Y(ourself)

Hey there!

I figured that since this was a DIY business, I should probably start sharing how to DIY some things? It could help, I suppose…

I don’t do a lot of weddings, but they happen sometimes. This whole business got started in the aftermath of planning my own nuptials in November 2011…that process was 4 months from engagement to ceremony…

Yes, it can be done.

The big, busy wedding season is winding down, but people are still getting married during the non-peak months and are even planning for next year. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the tips that we used to pull off our affair, as well as some tricks that I’ve learned since that fabulous day! And the great thing? These tips aren’t reserved for weddings only, but can be used, edited and updated for almost any event!

First up in the series, the all-inclusive invitation! We’ll talk about customization, etiquette, and how to skirt some of those rules to save you money…woot!

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Chocolate Wasted: The S’mores Chronicles

So summer is officially in full swing and that means it’s s’mores time!

To be honest, I’ve never liked s’mores because I’ve never really been a fan of marshmallows. I tried when I was younger in Girl Scouts and it was a no-go. I used to roast my friends’ marshmallows for them, mostly because I like to set things on fire and burn my food to a crisp. Drove my mom nuts, but that’s a different story…

So anyway, I told my hubby that I didn’t like s’mores, to which he replies, “You should make one with Snickers!” Yeah…pretty much when he says “You should…” it’s the equivalent of a triple dog dare. Consider it done!

I finally went to the store and got all of my supplies.

home alone...chocolate wasted in 5, 4, 3, 2...

home alone…chocolate wasted in 5, 4, 3, 2…

I ended up picking up the jumbo marshmallows because they were on sale, but for someone who doesn’t like marshmallows, I probably should have thought that through a little more *shrugs* but I suppose I can learn how to make marshmallow fondant 🙂 But because they were so large, I had to cut them in half.

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I made four separate s’mores and commenced the taste testing. So much marshmallow to burn. I think that torching marshmallows may be against the rules of conduct, but I really do like the taste of burnt food. I know I have a problem.

burn, baby burn...don't judge me...

burn, baby burn…don’t judge me…

This is just ridiculous. There is warm, chocolate dripping everywhere. It. Is. The. Best.

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The verdict? I think I’d have to say the Mr. Goodbar was my favorite, followed very closely by the Simply Caramel Milky Way. Whatever you decide, one can never go wrong with chocolate!

I hope you enjoy my little twist on the classic s’more 🙂 Try one (or all) of them, and let me know which is your fave!

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Happy Father’s Day

photo from do512.com

photo credit: http://www.do512.com

Sunday is Father’s Day 2013!

If you’re like me, you waited until the last minute to figure out what to get dad. I’m making my dad some special cookies…I’ve gotten as far as making the cookie dough, so Saturday is gonna be fun…

If you’re looking for some last minute ideas that let you use some stuff around the house, a little paper, and a few minutes, head over to my Pinterest board for some inspiration!

Another blogger I follow, A Lot on Your Plate, has the cutest idea for a picture frame for dad! I’m sure that he won’t mind you getting into his stash for this idea 🙂

Good luck and get crafting! You have about 36 hours…

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Showered with Love

Two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a shower-themed baby shower for my dear friend Carolyn. Her sister is a member of Delta Sigma Theta and I had this awesome elephant that I wanted to use for something, so it totally worked out!

So, very simply, the theme was “Let’s Shower Carolyn with Love!” Her daughter has been named Madison and the colors were centered around the baby’s room colors. Aunt Tracey did all of the food catering and I got to do the dessert table, games, and favors.

When the guests entered, there was a table set up for them to sign in and to write well wishes for both mom and baby.

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that is a pretty cool elephant!

book

double duty…guest book and bedtime story for the little one…

sign

The food was so good! I remember eating two plates. I’m just glad I wasn’t the only one…

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I found the little elephants in the $1 bin at Michael’s and decided that I wanted them to be white, for a cleaner and more uniform look. I thought to myself, “Self, they’re small, plastic, and harmless…a coat of paint should suffice…” Three coats in, I’m swearing by the application of primer on any and everything…

For the centerpieces, we had umbrellas, strung with “raindrop” crystals and elephants. If you know any member of this sorority, you know there’s never a shortage of elephants! I was very thankful that auntie had plenty to share!

ele2 table1

We played a variety of games, but what I thought would be the most fun to do would be to play “Never Have I Ever,” the G-Rated, baby shower version. The object of that game was to put a coin into Madison’s first piggy bank for every activity that you’d done. It was hilarious! Until I realized that I was putting the most money into it. I guess I should be thankful to have experienced so many things in life, because it sure cost me that day lol

game

For dessert, we had cake and cupcakes. Mom requested chocolate and wedding cake cupcakes, so that’s what we had. I mixed the icings and flavors and ended up eating a wedding cake cupcake with dark chocolate icing. Can you say the best of both worlds? The only reason I didn’t get another was because I was a little slow on the draw against the other guests.  It’s for the best, I suppose…

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We had such a wonderful time and the most beautiful hostess for the shower. Now we’re all just sitting around patiently waiting for baby Madison, so we can spoil her in real life…

Make It Awesome!

Don’t Eat Your Heart Out, Valentine!

Valentine’s Day is almost 2 weeks away!

I guess everyone is preparing to get their Valentines together to give out to their friends, significant others, secret admirees…I’m so excited! I’ve been planning the hubby’s day for a while now. I can’t go into detail just yet because he actually reads my blog (one of the many reasons I heart him) so I’ll have to stick with sharing some other ideas…

This post is dedicated to non-foodie ideas for the younger peeps. I love sweets and such, but with the health problems that plague our nation and the dismay I’ve begun to feel towards the cookie cutter Valentines-in-a-box, I thought this might be worthwhile to share.

Am I the only person that felt a little gipped when I got the same Batman card from 4 different classmates?

Anyway…I perused the ‘net to see what was out there and found some of the neatest ideas! None of these are mine, but it wouldn’t hurt to round them up for folks that don’t have a lot of time to search for some sugar-free coolness, right? Also, I’m sure the teachers wouldn’t miss the sugar rush…

1. I “Wheelie” Like You. This is cute, but I’m advocating it sans Blow Pops. These little cars can be found anywhere. And if you give out just the cars, you can just attach a tag to the package. Bonus!

wheel

2. A simple heart felt bookmark. Did you see what I did there? Ha! As a self-proclaimed nerd and book lover, this is just awesome.

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3. “You’re Out of This World Valentine!” Fabulous! Also, they will likely disassemble this Valentine and proceed to validate the theory of high bounce balls. Maaaybe, reserve this one for 4th grade and up…

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4. “Love is a Battlefield!” I was also a tomboy growing up and loved these things. Mom wanted me to play with dolls. To this day, I can name more GI Joes than Barbies… You can buy them here.

battle

5. “You Light Up My Life!” Really nice for a special Valentine who also has a February birthday. Just a thought… *ahem* Dollar Tree or a local grocery store can hook you up.

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6. “You’re Just Write for Me!” One to do your kid’s teacher proud. Unless the pencil break game is still popular in school. Do they still do that? I sucked at that game. Hey parents, remember these?

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7. “You Rule!” Please see guidelines for #6. These would be pretty nice and pull double duty for the group learning their alphabet, you think?

rule

8. “You’re A-Maze-ing!” These are pretty cool and can keep kids occupied for a while. Adults too. If you like this simple idea, they’re currently available at Oriental Trading or Michael’s, depending on how many you need. This is clearance week at Michael’s, so they don’t have a store coupon, but you can use one competitor’s coupon per transaction. Hope that helps!

maze

9. “You Make My Heart Glow!” Who doesn’t love glow sticks! I’ve seen these at our local Dollar Tree, but if you can find them in bulk, you’re totally winning.

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10. “I Am Bubbling with Excitement that You’re My Friend!” Bubbles will always be awesome. Unless of course you’re playing with them on a floor made of anything tiled and you proceed to try and walk out of said room. Check out your local dollar store for this find.

bubble

11. “I Can’t Smile Without You!” I don’t think I know of a better gift to earn brownie points with your dentist. They might even be willing to dip into their stash to help you out with this one. If not, yep, dollar store.

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12. “Blow Me a Kiss Valentine!” Ahh, noisemakers. Always a judgment call.

blow

13. Animal puns. I really like the “You’re Sweet and I’m Not Lion!” Michael’s has a variety of plastic animals available for $1. I think the Dollar Tree does as well. You can also order some here.

animal

14. “Not Loving You Would Be a Mistake!” and “Dropping Down to Wish You a Happy Valentine’s Day!” Please see comments #2 and #4 to understand why I genuinely am fascinated by these. Seriously. If someone gave me the paratrooper, my boss would come in to find me throwing him off the top part of my desk…

vday boy

These are just some of the ideas I came across. Head over to my Pinterest board and follow me there, to see more of the ideas, find the printables that go with them and to meet the amazing people that inspired these ideas; I’ll be adding to the board as I find more. I’ve got the hubby’s gift worked out, but that certainly won’t stop me from looking for more great ideas. Who knows, I may have to help the nephew and niece be the cool kids in school, so I must continue to research!

Make It Awesome!